The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Beantown Beatdown, Briefly

"Where the f---- is your opus on the Yanks-Sox sweep already? I'm getting impatient already." -- Alex Belth

Apologies to Alex and the rest of my readers expecting an opus; there will be none this week. Instead I'll refer you back to the usual suspects, Alex (and again), his compadre Cliff Corcoran, Joe Sheehan, Steve Goldman, Steve Goldman, and Steve Goldman. Them's my go-to guys for this one.

I didn't get a chance to watch very much of this past weekend's five-game Beantown Beatdown, but I took great pleasure in the result nonetheless. My wife and I spent the weekend up in the Catskills with two other couples, in a beautiful log cabin without cable TV or Internet access. I caught the first four and a half innings of Friday afternoon's game at home while packing, including Johnny Damon's two-run homer, then the last few innings while driving upstate -- this despite having to endure a woman going thermonuclear at the rental car agency for some 20 minutes while we tried to calmly slink though. Already the rout was on, but who knew it would take such lopsided proportions?

Nestled in the Catskills and engrossed in a game of Trivial Pursuit (we wuz robbed!), we were reduced to following Friday night's game via a line score on my cell phone, repeatedly texting the Google SMS service like nickels grew on trees. 5-1, 5-5, 7-5, 7-10, 14-11... it's no wonder the game wound up the longest nine-inning contest in big-league history, and I'm not certain I could have sat through it. At 12:45 AM, I was brushing my teeth and the bottom of the ninth was still going. Sweet.

Similarly, while we were able to read the newspaper accounts of Game One, and even managed to scroll through the cumbersome web interface on my cell phone to get the wire service account of Game Two, we had little to do with Saturday afternoon's game beyond score checking. Even being back in the pocket by Sunday night's game, I didn't get a heck of a lot of viewing time; starting this week's Hit List almost as soon I walked in the door, I was forced to speed through much of the game on TiVO. Given the rain delay, the continuous blathering of Joe Morgan, and the preening of Curt Schilling, that wasn't a bad choice at all, and by the time Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada crushed 10th-inning homers off of Craig Hansen, I was only minutes behind. Still plowing the fallow Hit List fields, I heard more than I watched of Monday afternoon's game, though I did have to smile at David Wells' valiant effort in defeat. Fond memories of one of my favorite games -- and writeups -- of the Torre era. We miss ya, Boomer.

But wow, what a massacre. By now the figures I cited in this week's Yank and Sawk Hit List entries are old news: 39 runs for the Yanks in the first three games, 28 walks issued by Boston pitchers in those games, nine of them by Josh Beckett, 20 runs surrendered by Boston starters in 13.2 innings, Johnny Damon 9-for-18 with 20 total bases in those games, Robinson Cano with 10 RBI, two Sox pitchers DFA'ed, the accomplishments of Bobby Abreu endlessly measured against Boston's deadline inactivity... it's all a blur. And while it did suck a bit to miss so much action amid an otherwise lovely weekend, my pals and I momentarily relished the thought of those beleaguered Sox fans twisting on the knife, those Boston Globe busybodies churning out "Sky Is Falling!" declarations as they throw sainted Theo Epstein under the bus. This beatdown's been in the mail since October 2004, and while it doesn't mean nearly as much -- hell, in the grand scheme of things, it may not mean anything -- capping those three wins with two harder-fought games more befitting this balanced rivalry does clinch the season series in short order and provide an indelible memory.

Through Tuesday's play, Baseball Prospectus' Postseason Odds Report estimates the Yanks' chances at reaching the playoffs, either by flag or by Wild Card, at 97.2 percent, while the Sox's chances are calculated at just 10.3 percent, down from 32.2 percent on Friday. I don't put a ton of stock in that, but if it's not bad enough, Deadspin has unearthed a YouTube clip of David Ortiz endorsing a product that, uh, puts the wood in one's bat. Say it ain't so, Papi. And speaking of which, how about a round of applause for Mike Myers, the Yanks' lefty specialist who held Ortiz to an 0-for-4 in the series?

In any event, my time to blog is brief; I'm headed to Salt Lake City on Thursday, then Wyoming for my annual backpacking trip, then to Milwaukee for my brother-in-law Aaron's wedding. Back just after Labor Day, with a long-awaited, historically-based Hit List piece, and a New York Sun piece on the Dodgers and the Wild, Wild NL West race that should land this Friday.

In honor of a series where everything came up Milhouse, I'll leave you with a list of my seven favorite things about this week's Hit List:

1. "Neifi Perez for a bucket of yak spit and a rusted-out tuba" is the best deal I've conjured up in ages. It's almost good enough for Dave Littlefield.

2. Barry Bonds in orange and black. Thank you, stock photography!

3. "Reduced Fat Milk status levels" are perfect for describing slim chances. And I love watching the Blue Jays' ship sink.

4. The Orioles becoming my designated entry where Simpsons references go to die. "Give me five bees for a quarter, is what we used to say..."

5. Nothing beats a western with an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. I'm partial to the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood trilogy culminating in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which worked perfectly for the Cleveland Indians' entry, but I'll put in a good word for Once Upon a Time in the West; the scene where the man in the black hat is revealed to be noted good-guy actor Henry Fonda is one of my favorite moments on film.

6. Being pretty damn close in the Guess When Mike Sweeney Goes Back on the DL parlor game; I said August 19, and while he didn't go on the DL, he did leave the game injured. Not that I wish injury on the poor bastard, I just like looking like I know the future once in awhile.

7. That Ozzie Guillen rant could have driven half a dozen entries.

See you on the other side, my friends...

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